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March 14, 2009

Training- How to teach loose leash walking

Filed under: Training — myminizoo @ 1:01 pm

How to walk on a loose leash is a skill every dog should know. It makes walks much more pleasant and helps ensure that your dog is a good canine citizen.

First of all if you have a puppy bite the bullet and start to train it from the get go to walk at your side. Once he learns that he can pull it will be much harder to teach him to walk on a loose leash.

If your dog is already a puller this process might take some time as the behaviour was learned over a long period of time. Pulling on leash is very rewarding as it often results in getting what the dog wants, such as access to other dogs, opportunity to play. We need to turn this around and make it more rewarding to stay with you.

5 Easy Steps to Loose Leash Walking

Tools needed: a regular nylon flat leash and lots of tiny soft tasty treats ( bits of cheese, hotdog, freeze died liver work well)

1) Start indoors where there is less distraction. With your dog on leash at your side put the treat infront of the dogs nose and take a step. If he walks with your say “YES” and reward. From here you can start to take a couple of steps before saying “YES” and rewarding. **VIP** Always say “YES” when the dog is parallel to your leg and then reward. This way the dog will start to realize that this is the behaviour you want.

2) Take the game outdoors. Do exactly the same, start at only taking one step, as outside has so many more distractions. Then progress to a couple of steps before rewarding. Eventually you will be able to walk for longer distances without rewarding, but lots of rewards are essential in the beginning to keep the dogs attention on you.

3) Once your dog is starting to follow you start to become unpredictable. While showing him the treat take sharp turns, go fast, go slow, run in zig-zags. The point is to keep the dog guessing where you are going next. This will teach him to follow you.

4) If the dog ignors the treat and charges out ahead of you simply become a tree. Stop dead in your tracks and wait until there is slack on the leash. If your dog doesnt get the picture at first you can back up slowly until he backs up enough that there is slack on the leash. **VIP** Only walk when there is slack in the leash! If you give into the dog and walk the direction he wants to pull you in the training process will be much slower.

5) The last step is to add a word to the behaviour so the dog does it predictably. This also allows you to release the dog from the behaviour if you want to let him go sniff or visit with another dog. Use a word such as “HEEL” or “SIDE” . But, be careful to only add the word when the dog truely understands the behaviour. To add the word simply say the word while the dog is heeling and reward when he does it correctly.


 Happy Heeling!


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